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An Overview of Missionary Work in Ukraine

April 5, 2024 |  By Rebecca Olsen

Ukraine has struggled with internal and external conflicts for over a decade, especially with Russia. The current conflict with Russia started over two years ago, and there is no end in sight. Despite this turmoil, Christian missionaries in Ukraine continue to work, and Advancing Native Missions still has native missionaries on the ground.

Here is a comprehensive overview of missionary work in Ukraine.

History of Mission Work

Early History

Christian missionaries in Ukraine have had contact with native Ukrainian people for centuries — there’s even a legend that the apostle Andrew came to the modern-day Kiev area in 55 A.D. However, the mass baptism of Kiev in 988 A.D by Vladimir the Great firmly established Eastern Orthodox Christianity in the area. Disagreements would lead to the development of both the Ukrainian Orthodox church and the Ukrainian Catholic church. Protestant missionaries came to the area much later and have been a minority ever since.

Soviet Union

Unfortunately, the Soviet Union sought to stamp out all Christianity and mission work to establish a secular, atheist government. Some areas of Ukraine allowed both the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches to continue during the Soviet era, but the government was often heavily involved. Many people became suspicious of Orthodox churches, and Christianity in general, because of this government involvement.

Post-Soviet Union

When the Soviet Union fell in December 1991, Christianity began to spread once again. Although some people remained secular and suspicious, others were desperate for the hope Christianity offered. Some Orthodox and Catholic churches were able to return to their buildings because these branches of Christianity were closely tied to Ukraine’s national identity. However, most branches and denominations, including Protestants, had to start over from scratch. Foreign and native Christian missionaries in Ukraine helped during this rebuilding process.

Challenges and Persecution

Cultural Challenges

The remnants of Soviet-era secularism and religious suspicion continue to challenge missionary work in Ukraine today. Orthodox and Catholic faiths are also more deeply entrenched in Ukrainian culture, with the result that many people view Protestant Christianity as foreign, strange, or illegitimate.

Russian Persecution

Current conflict with Russia causes new challenges as well, including persecution. A 2016 Russian law outlawed many religious activities and groups, including some Protestant congregations and ministries, and many forms of personal or organized evangelism. The Russian forces trying to occupy Ukraine already have this mentality and are persecuting many religious groups in the areas they occupy, especially Protestant believers.

Opportunities for the Gospel

Humanitarian Relief

You may think that this historical secularism and current persecution would shrink opportunities for the Gospel. Thankfully the opposite is true! Protestant leaders report that their relief work, such as providing food, has brought many people to the church and to Christ. ANM native missionaries have seen this firsthand as they offer humanitarian relief and share the Gospel.

Orphan Assistance

For economic reasons, the Ukrainian government forces children to leave their orphanage at age 16, and they are very vulnerable, often with limited education and no job training. Local missionaries’ long-term work with these orphans has opened many teenagers and young adults to the Gospel. Orphanage outreach, summer camps, halfway houses for released orphans, and evangelical foster families bring the experience of the Good News to young people who have only known secularism.

How You Can Support Native Ukrainian Missionaries


Given the present conflict and long-term needs of the area, native Ukrainian missionaries need more support than ever. Your prayers are especially important, and you can download our free 7-day prayer guide to learn how to pray.


Financial support is also important, as humanitarian needs grow and income opportunities dwindle. You can help a family in Ukraine and support native missionaries directly through ANM.

This overview of missionary work in Ukraine is just the tip of a great iceberg of hungry unbelievers and evangelism in a war-torn, secularized country. Please join us in praying for and financially supporting native christian missionaries in Ukraine who continue to faithfully serve God and their communities.

Download from this link to find 7 Days of Prayer for Missionaries.

Photo: – Kyiv, Ukraine